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AAA Michigan: 60% of teen crashes are caused by distracted driving

Posted at 7:07 AM, Mar 26, 2015

DEARBORN, Mich. -- New research suggests that distracted driving is more serious of a problem for teen drivers than previously thought, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

They found that distraction played a role in nearly 6 out of 10 'moderate-to-severe' teen crashes -- four times as many as previous estimates based on police reports.

Researchers were able to review 1,700 videos of crashes involving teenage drivers that were taken from in-vehicle cameras.  They analyzed the six seconds that led up to the accidents, and the results showed that distraction was a factor in 58% of them.  The NHTSA had previously estimated that distraction was a factor in only 14% of teen road accidents.

"Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible," said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  "The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized."

The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:

  • Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
  • Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9 percent of crashes
  • Singing/moving to music: 8 percent of crashes
  • Grooming: 6 percent of crashes
  • Reaching for an object: 6 percent of crashes

AAA recommends that parents teach teens about the dangers of cell phone use, and also recommends that state laws prohibit cell phone use by teen drivers.